Thames Water has released estimated figures which reveal that nearly four million litres of raw sewage enters the rivers in the London area due to incorrectly connected sewer pipes.
The problems with misconnected pipes occur when household drains are connected to the wrong sewer system which releases the waste as rain water into rivers and streams.
A Thames Water spokesperson said:
“Too often this problem is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. But it is significant, and we want to properly enforce compliance, along with local authorities, because it will make a big difference.”
The problem is not confined to households, as businesses are also guilty of releasing their waste, albeit unwittingly, into the rainwater drains. Items such as dishwashers, washing machines, toilet and basins should all discharge into the public sewer system but they are commonly connected to the wrong type of drain.
London drainage engineers estimate that as many as one in ten premises may be affected, with local councils responsible for making sure homeowners fix the problem. However Thames Water believes this is not enough and is asking for new laws to be implemented which would make households comply.
Thames Water submitted evidence to the government saying that only a minor change would see significant benefits:
“While companies are accountable for tackling this pollution, enforcing work at private properties to address it is the responsibility of local authorities, who are not incentivised or always resourced to give it the priority it warrants.
“Granting companies these powers, in addition to local authorities, would make the resolution of misconnections potentially more efficient for local authorities, companies and customers. It would represent a minor regulatory change for a significant environmental benefit.”